21 Apr Tiffany, Pop Icon and Rock Musician, Slays Epic Concert I Was Thrilled to Open
by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
I bought Tiffany’s first album with my allowance money when I was a kid – and spent the summer of ’88 singing along to “Danny,” “Could’ve Been,” and her biggest hit, “I Think We’re Alone Now.” So when my rock band Trashing Violet got asked to open for her this spring, at the beautifully restored Wall Street Theater in Norwalk, I actually cried.
Yet as I escaped into nostalgic bliss, streaming her greatest hits on Spotify, I wondered if my punk band would be the right opener for a pop icon. Then I streamed her most recent album, Shadows, and I understood completely. Tiffany is no longer the Tiffany of my childhood. She’s better, and edgier, than 10-year-old me could have ever imagined.
Tiffany, circa 2023, is pure rock n’ roll goddess energy, with soaring, powerful, and sometimes raspy vocals that exude a Janis-Joplin-meets-Joan-Jett vibe. Her latest songs are loaded with attitude, depth, and killer hooks, while her lyrics speak to the experience of a life filled with epic highs and devastating lows. This is a woman who has forged ahead despite harsh and annoying (and sexist) critics and has embraced the chaos that came with that decision. This is a woman who has raised a child, and lived through marriages that didn’t work out. Tiffany, circa 1988, could not have written or performed songs with this kind of relatable, emotional heft.
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Tiffany is not conforming to any expectations of who people think she should be. And for that reason alone, she’s more punk rock than almost every so-called punk musician I know – and exactly the artist most of us geriatric millennials and Gen X hard-rock lovers need.
Yet too often, men and women my age still associate her with memories of shopping mall synth-pop and Debbie Gibson comparisons. Admittedly, I didn’t realize Tiffany had taken the rock n’ roll route until I was asked to open for her in February. But as I discovered on Sunday, April 16, when we finally met face to face, Tiffany is not only cool and down to earth, but also brave. She defies expectations, and is willing venture into new creative territories, even if they’re less lucrative, commercially.
That’s why last Sunday night’s Wall Street Theater gig felt absolutely thrilling from the moment I stepped onstage for soundcheck to the moment we took photos with Tiffany’s band at the end of the night.
During our 30-minute opening set, my band Trashing Violet played fan favorites like “Eggs” as well as our newest single, “Good Girl,” weaving in a couple of ska-punk tunes throughout. The solo artist – and local favorite — Vicki F followed, bringing a cool, beatnik/new-age blend of acoustic rock to the stage.
Around 9, Tiffany hit the stage with her band in tow, to huge applause from the audience as she launched into a handful of songs from Shadows. Highlights included the rowdy “Keep on Swinging,” the deeply emotive “You’re My Everything” and the super-catchy, bass-driven rock anthem “I Like the Rain.” Longtime fans appreciated an updated, intimate version of “All This Time,” which she sang perched on the edge of the stage, encouraging others to cocoon around her. And, of course, she slayed her big hits at the tail end of the 70-ish-minute set: “Could’ve Been,” “I Saw Him Standing There” and “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
It was an epic night for me, for so many reasons.
Meeting a hero from one’s youth is like something out of a dream, and admittedly, I stumbled for the right words to say to her. Fortunately, she took my fangirl gushing like a champ, even popping into my dressing room for a surprise cameo appearance during a short, pre-show video. Experiencing the venue itself, as a performer, was nothing short of spectacular. Wall Street Theater is a true treasure in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is so generous to local acts, or, as Tiffany’s drummer put it, “hometown heroes.”
It’s also so heartwarming to see that Tiffany and I are more alike now than we ever were in the ‘80s days of Teen Beat pop. Although she’s a touring, Nashville-based rocker and I’m a part-time musician/guitar teacher with a primary gig as a journalist, we’re both moms fronting rock bands. And we’re both still standing, singing and doing what we love, long past the days when we were told to stay off the stage. It’s fair to say I’ll be rooting for Tiffany as she traipses the country in the weeks ahead, and that I’ll be one of the first to stream her next album.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.